The U.S. Navy has completed testing on a new automated ship crane that can safely perform ship-to-ship cargo transfer while at sea and compensate for surging waves, eliminating the need for a secure deep-water port in emergency or combat situations.
The Large Vessel Interface Lift On/Lift Off (LVI Lo/Lo) Crane can also facilitate standard supply transfer to ships in choppy seas. Developed by the Sea Warfare and Weapons Department in the Office of Naval Research along with Oceaneering International, the crane has sensors and cameras as well as motion-sensing algorithms that let it automatically shift with the rolling and pitching of the sea, making it much easier for operators to center the crane over cargo and transfer it.
The ONR finished testing the crane during trials in the Gulf of Mexico. It successfully transferred 128 containers from one ship to another amid waves of up to 1 meter (3.28 feet), according to an ONR release. Normally, ships require a sheltered harbor with calm waters to prevent cargo from swinging violently.
Standard 20-foot containers, Humvees, and other heavy cargo can be quickly and safely offloaded at sea with the crane. In military operations, 10 people are needed to operate standard cranes, but the LVI crane needs only three--one in the crane house and one on each ship.
Future development and use of the crane is unclear, but a demonstration version of it is installed on the SS Flickertail State, a crane ship based in Newport News, Va. The crane is available to support U.S. humanitarian assistance and disaster-relief operations, according to ONR.